Spotlight with Barbara Genda: A room with a difference

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Barbara Genda conceives, develops everything from lavish walk-in wardrobes, magnificent home libraries and dedicated children’s playrooms to ergonomic home offices and general clever storage solutions for all sorts of spaces, big and small.

Her client base and projects are quite diverse – from normal families trying to declutter and maximise space in their small home on a modest budget to celebrities, wealthy Russians and members of the Royal Qatari family wanting bespoke and stately pieces for their opulent abodes. It’s a small, boutique practice, and Barbara Genda is at the heart of all operations.

Barbara wasn’t always a furniture designer though. She had previously ditched what she felt was a boring and tedious career as a tax specialist at PriceWaterhouseCoopers over 10 years ago to pursue her first love – design. Using her savings, she initially set up a small mail order practice, intent on exploiting what she perceived to be an inherent lack of stylish, contemporary quality bespoke furnishings on the market.  Her business has since flourished into a thriving design practice.

Today Barbara juggles running her business (which includes a showroom in London’s West End) with raising her two school-age children, and her day-to-day life includes school runs, back-to-back client meetings, ferrying her kids to and from ballet or music lessons, occasional cheat’s dinner of fish and chips of McDonald’s on the way home before relaxing in front of the fire in the family home in the country. In the spring, she goes sailing with the family at a local sailing club.

She can talk about the challenges she has faced working in a traditionally male-centric profession. She says:

“Time and time again, I have had comments when arriving to a design appointment:  “is your man coming?” I think it’s because people think that a woman may not know how to construct the furniture. In the past, if you wanted something like this done, you would speak to the cabinet maker (usually a man). But, from what I see, a cabinet maker may know how to technically make it, but may not know how it should look like or work. 

"From what I can see, the clients love having a woman’s perspective. I am practical, I have a family, so I know all the challenges family life presents in a house, so I can offer a solution, not just simply make furniture. I think this is why we are so successful in what we do.”

She also talks about the secrets of being successful in this particular industry:

“The most important thing for me is to raise the trust in our products and our reputation. That is not easy when you are starting from zero, but we have a very personal relationship with our customers and it is my job to ensure that everyone who is involved with this company must have the same values and ethics as me. I train them all personally."

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You can see some of Barbara's beautiful and contemporary designs here.

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